'This is a big day': AdventHealth frontline workers receive COVID-19 vaccine

On Wednesday, healthcare workers lined up and rolled up their sleeves to be the first in Central Florida to take the COVID-19 vaccine.

FOX 35 News was live as the vaccines arrived on Tuesday at AdventHealth Orlando. 

Officials held a press conference on Wednesday as the first recipients received the vaccine. Since the process was still ongoing, it was hard to say how many had been vaccinated so far, but officials say they expect to administer "hundreds, if not thousands, per day."

Susan Upper, a nurse manager in the COVID-19 progressive care unit at AdventHealth Orlando, was one of the first to receive the vaccine.

 "We need to get ahead of it [pandemic] and the only way to get ahead of it is to get vaccinated." 

While AdventHealth received 20,000 doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, it will be divided among some of the other local hospitals as well -- starting with thousands of frontline workers who risk the highest exposure on the job. 

"I do believe this is a watershed moment for us… we will all remember where we were when the COVID vaccine was released," says Chief Medical Officer at AdventHealth, Dr. Neil Finkler.

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AdventHealth is one of five hospital systems selected in the state of Florida to receive the initial batch of the vaccine. Staff members did run-throughs of the distribution this week. Administrators say which employees get it first won’t necessarily have to do with their job title, but with their duties in the hospital.  

"We’ve strategized and prioritized based on risk of exposure. We are starting with the first group – folks who work in an ICU, the COVID ICU, the COVID units, our emergency departments, people that do procedures, anesthesiologists. Those that are very high risk and are exposed on a daily basis and then we’ll go down from there based on risk of exposure and quantity."

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AdventHealth officials say of the 20,000 doses, around 9,400 are expected to be used at AdventHealth in Orlando.  The rest will go to neighboring hospitals like Nemours and Orlando Health.  

Watch FOX 35 News for the latest on the COVID-19 vaccine distribution plans in Florida.